Russell Wilson has been making an impact both on and off the field. Apart from leading the Seattle Seahawks to a 16-10 win over the Los Angeles Rams this past Sunday, he has helped eliminate two million plastic straws from the Seattle area. By July of 2018, all plastic straws and utensils will be banned from Seattle.
Russell Wilson advocates for the elimination of plastic straws in a PSA for Lonely Whale Foundation.
Throughout the month of September, over 200 Seattle businesses, venues, and restaurants partnered up with the Lonely Whale Foundation to eliminate plastic straw usage. Over 500 million single-use plastic straws are used daily in the United States, and many of them end up in our oceans.
Lonely Whale focuses on keeping the oceans and marine life clean and healthy. “Strawless in Seattle” is the campaign they have begun in Seattle, the first city they have started in. By teaming up with well-known restaurants such as the Space Needle and various Seattle athletes, they hope to inspire environmentally friendly change.
To make environmentally positive changes more exciting and appealing, a game was formed. People were to vote for who they thought was Seattle’s straw thief, the athlete stealing plastic straws from all around Seattle.
On Tuesday, Sept. 26, Strawless in Seattle’s closing celebration revealed who was stealing all these straws. Wilson announced that he was the straw thief, and went on to voice his opinion about the negative effects society has on the environment.
“Single-use straws suck…plastic pollution is choking our ocean, harming sea life and putting our own health at risk,” Wilson said in a public service announcement for Strawless in Seattle. “We are the first line of defense, and that is why I decided to accept Lonely Whale’s challenge and lead our team to fight for our ocean.”
Sophomores Kaela Takei and Sofia Carregha won an Instagram contest and were invited to attend the event. “I’ve always tried to not use plastic straws, but before if I was on my way to Starbucks and didn’t have my reusable straw, I’d think it was fine,” Carregha said. “Now, I’m more self-conscious and it makes me think about the impact I have and what I can do to make a difference.”
The Seattle Mariners and Safeco Field contributed by going without plastic straws for 15 games. The Seahawks are the first team in the NFL that has joined this movement, and CenturyLink Field will be removing plastic straws for all future games and events.
“Not only does plastic pollute the ocean, it pollutes yourself. I didn’t realize how many chemical and carcinogenic materials are put into plastic straws,” Takei said. “I thought it was interesting, not only are you saving the animals in the ocean, you’re in a way saving yourself.”
There were five possible straw thieves that people were asked to vote on: Mitch Haniger from the Mariners, Breanna Stewart from Seattle Storm, Beverly Yanez from Seattle Reign, Brian Schmetzer the coach of Sounders, and Russel Wilson of the Seahawks. The inclusion of these five Seattle athletes encouraged others who might not normally get involved to do so. “Having a celebrity that people look up to talk about an issue makes others think ‘Oh, if they’re going Strawless, I should too,’” Takei said.
Many people are aware of the ongoing problem of pollution and contamination to the environment, but may be more ignorant to their personal contribution. “Plastic doesn’t ever really degrade. Paper and glass do, but plastic turns into microplastics which are just smaller and smaller pieces of it. Then, it gets into fish and fish eat them. If you eat fish you’re essentially eating those microplastics too,” Carregha said. “By going strawless and trying to reduce the amount of plastic you use, you’re essentially helping yourself.”
Wilson encouraged Seahawks fans to stop using plastic straws. Effective next year, there will be a ban on plastic straws and utensils in Seattle. At our current rate, there is projected to be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
“I saw a video on Facebook of a marine biologist pulling a straw out of a sea turtle’s nose. Ever since watching that video, I’ve tried to not use plastic straws,” Takei said.
Even though the month long Strawless in Seattle campaign is over, many places all over Seattle have pledged to replace their plastic straws with paper ones. These paper straws degrade in just a few weeks and are more environmentally friendly.
As Wilson leads Seattle in the removal of plastic waste, it is urged that fellow Seattleites stand behind him and “stop sucking!”
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